Charles Leclerc has cautioned that Ferrari shouldn’t allow the increased spotlight on the team to cause extra pressure now it is leading both Formula 1 championships by a decent margin.
Last weekend Leclerc took his second win in three 2022 races, with nearest rival Max Verstappen suffering a second retirement in the Red Bull.
That opened up a gap of 34 points for Leclerc on Mercedes’ George Russell, with Verstappen in sixth on 25 points. In the constructors’ championship Ferrari leads the way with a 39-point advantage over Mercedes, as Red Bull fell a further 10 points in arrears.
While it is still very early in the season with another 20 grands prix to go, Ferrari’s resurgence has caused a lot of excitement in Italy among the tifosi and the media as F1 now heads to Imola for the first of two races on the Scuderia’s home soil.
But Leclerc has warned that the Maranello squad cannot get too caught up in the hype caused by its strong start to 2022 and shouldn’t “overdo things” as it tries to secure its first constructors’ title since 2008.
When asked about the excitement in Italy going into the Imola weekend, Leclerc said: “Oh yeah, I can imagine it, but I don’t want to think about it too much because it’s still very early in the season.
“Obviously, it’s good to be in the lead of the championship. Thirty-four points is always good to take wherever you are in the calendar but I don’t want to focus too much on the championship for now.
“Italy will be incredible, but we need to approach the race weekend just like we approached the first three weekends. I think it’s extremely important not to put on ourselves extra pressure and not try to overdo things.
“We are working as a team extremely well since the beginning of the season and we just need to keep doing our job, just like we did in the first three weekends.”
Leclerc has the advantage of already having experienced soaking up the pressure of the tifosi, winning a red hot 2019 Italian Grand Prix at Monza after being hounded by Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas all race.
“Italy for us, it’s always incredible, so I can’t wait to be there. Obviously, Monza was a very tense race with Lewis behind but again, I just tried to not to think too much about where we are,” he recalled when quizzed by Sky Sports F1.
“Even though the grandstands will look particularly different there – there will be probably a bit more red – we will just try and focus on our job and not to focus too much on where we are in the championship and in location.”